Dr. Gorakh Pawar is a staff scientist in the Department of Material Science and Engineering at Idaho National Laboratory (INL), which is part of the U.S. Department of Energy's complex of national laboratories, and is the United States leading center for nuclear energy research and development. The laboratory performs work in each of the strategic goal areas of DOE: energy, national security, science, and environment. Dr. Pawar’s research interest is exclusively focused on the design, discover, and optimize the functionality of critical materials and ensure their efficient utilization in emerging critical technologies.
The continuing depletion of valuable terrestrial resources—such as critical elements, minerals, and metals that are absolutely necessary for the development and sustainability of next-generation energy technologies—have enormously shifted the twenty-first century’s space-race landscape. The movement is towards the exploration, discovery, extraction, and transportation of technologically and economically valuable extraterrestrial elements, minerals, and metals (e.g., rare earth elements, uranium, helium-3, and cobalt). However, when this extraordinary reality eventuates, commercial metal and mineral exploration, extraction, and recovery efforts in celestial space will have to confront legal, social, and geopolitical issues based on existing international and domestic space laws within the context of continuously degrading global sociological, economic, and political situation. Dr. Pawar’s forward-looking work is aimed to investigate critically these roadblocks and identify the role of relevant establishments and stakeholders in the resolution of major conflicts and unforeseen challenges. The hope is potentially to enhance mutual understanding, trust, and cooperation between governments and private and public stakeholders to ensure a stable, secure, and peaceful world. This century faces many of the complex and dangerous challenges that the previous century failed to defuse: resource scarcity, political polarization, and the advent of powerful new technological capabilities. Identifying the effects of increasingly powerful capabilities to pursue resource extraction in space, understanding the current national and international regulatory frameworks that mediate conflicts over terrestrial and extraterrestrial resources, and detailing a path to cooperation among the nations, private-sector entities, and mediating institutions can mean the difference between a peaceful, prosperous, and cooperative planet and a world at war.